On 15th July 2009, many of the class who graduated in 1959 returned for a 50th anniversary reunion. It was an opportunity to meet old friends and to see how the department has changed.
After a formal welcome by Professor Lynn Gladden and Professor John Davidson, the alumni went on tours of the department and enjoyed meeting some current researchers who explained their work.
There was then an exercise where current students had the opportunity to meet the alumni and to discuss chemical engineers’ career prospects – then and now. With careers spanning 50 years, the 16 alumni provided 800 years of experience for the students to learn from. After leaving Cambridge, the careers available to chemical engineers are many and varied and that applies now as much as it did in 1959. The exercise ended with each group forecasting a front page chemical engineering breakthrough which might hit the press in 2020, with headlines ranging from "We are entering the Golden Era (extracting gold from the sea)" to - even more amusingly - "Energy crisis solved, hot air recovered from Parliament."
The alumni enjoyed a leisurely lunch at St Catharine’s College and then returned to the department for tea and farewells. Mike Bennett thanked Elena Gonzalez for her work in organising the event and gave her a large bunch of flowers. Elena said, "It was a delight to see our current students and academics interact with our 1959 alumni and share experiences about the future of chemical engineering and how careers have evolved over the last 50 years".